Members share their tips for permaculture gardening in Brisbane.
Making weed tea
Please note: this is for invasive weeds such as maderia vine (as shown in the photo) and grass, or anything with seeds we don't want growing in our compost.
I'm hoping this will provide the garden with some good liquid fertiliser, to be used on all plants, as well as help stop the regrowth of unwanted plants.
I've attached photos showing the process I've been using to get the weed tea system up and running at the garden. My aim is to have a system everyone finds easy to use.
What to put in the weed tea
Collecting the weeds
The end result
Identifying Cane Toads
30 April 2009
For more information and details of how to reduce the number of cane toads near you, visit http://www.frogwatch.org.au/
Possum-proofing your garden
20 April 2006
Naomi planted some seedlings in her own garden, only to find them decimated by Toowong possums. The gardeners shared their thoughts on how to possum-proof a garden.
"I've got some stuff called "Poss Off" - it's really bitter. I tried it a bit when I was in Toowong - the possums seem to only have a bit of a nibble and then decide it is crap... not always enough to save a seedling though!"
"I have tried everything too with limited success. You can buy some stuff called Poss Off at hardware stores to spray on but it only seems to work for a few days. Balloons are also supposed to work because they hate the bang but the only sure-fire method I have used is to cover the garden (I have herbs) with some netting - actually I made a frame from old mosquito screens."
"Cover them with wire netting until they establish."
We have a bush full of VERY hot birds eye chillis which you could blend up and spray onto your plants. This may deter then, and of course you would have to wash anything before eating. My dad suggests chilli mixed with urine (yes he's serious!) but I haven't tried that.
I always net new beds until the plants are big enough (and less attractive). You buy the nets at Mitre 10- white, sturdy, ugly and expensive. Net the tomatoes before ripening as well.
Post script from Naomi
Most people said that a cage or frence is the only solution. At the recent Council curb-side collection, I collected a whole lot of white, wire, free-standing clothes lines that had rusted. I covered them with mesh, and used 'twisty ties' to wire them into fences and A-frame cages. It works perfectly. Despite the initial decimation, I now have a strawberry growing and most of my herbs have recovered.
Building a No-Dig Garden Bed
Friday 21 July 2006
Cathy, one of our gardeners, wrote these instructions for building a No-Dig garden bed. At the Vera Street Garden we use this method for establishing all of our beds. It's perfect for low-maintenance, low-water vegetable gardens.
For every 1 square metre of garden bed, you will need:
2 newspapers, soaking in a bucket of water.
1/2 bale of lucerne
2 wheelbarrows of composts
1/2 bale sugar cane mulch, soaking in a wheelbarrow of water
about 6 buckets of water
instead of newspaper, you can use cardboard or old rags
instead of lucerne, you can use any green manure, preferably nitrogen-fixing such as pigeon pea, or comfrey
a layer of twigs and seeweed on the bottom, especially if you are building the garden up on concrete.
consider how you will protect against animals- do you need to errect a fence or some kind of netting? Branches placed over the completed bed will help stop bush turkeys from scratching young seedlings.
Key point: It is important that each layer is thoroughly wet. Using lots of water now will mean that you don't need to water much at all later on, because the mulch is very effective.
Slash or mow any existing lawn or weeds.
Lay down a thick layer of overlapping newspaper to suppress weeds.
Alternate thin layers of lucerne and compost.
Wet each layer thoroughly.
Spread sugar cane mulch over the top to form insulating and water retaining mulch layer.
Create small pockets in the lucerne and fill them with extra compost.
Plant seeds or seedlings into the compost.
Draw mulch layer back up around plants.
Water the garden just enough to keep damp- maybe once a week.
Add extra mulch as needed.
You can add another layer of compost as a top dressing after harvesting the crop.
Some methods also suggest you prepare the bed and then leave if for a few weeks to 'ripen' before planting. Covering the bed with black plastic during this time can help to create additional heat and accelerate the start of the layers breaking down.
Cass McGrath. Gardening without Digging. Sydney: Summit Books, 1980
Annette McFarlane. Organic Vegetable Gardening. Sydney: ABC Books, 2002